At least 11 dead after partial building collapse near Miami

By Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:56 PM ET, Mon June 28, 2021
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11:59 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

One additional body recovered from the rubble, bringing number of confirmed dead to 10, official says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

One more body has been discovered in the rubble of the partial collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, bringing the number of people killed to 10, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Monday.

She said 151 people are still unaccounted for and 135 have been accounted for.

"Our detectives are working in realtime right now to audit this list. We're receiving multiple calls, still, from family members about the same loved ones and the information is coming from various sources," Cava said.

The mayor stressed that the priority of the operation remains rescuing possible survivors.

"Right now our top priority is search and rescue and find the people," the mayor said. "We're going to continue and work to exhaust every possible option in our search," she added.
11:52 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

Florida governor says federal investigators are going to investigate the building collapse

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that investigators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are in Florida to assess the building collapse.

DeSantis said NIST has done "a handful of thorough investigations" since their creation after 9/11. "They did Joplin, Missouri, from the tornados. They're doing Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. They did a Rhode Island nightclub fire that happened almost 20 years ago," he added. 

DeSantis said the NIST investigation is going to be very thorough and "will not happen in a day or two." 

"This will take a long time. That is the time horizon they work on."

A press conference is ongoing with officials providing the latest information on the Surfside building collapse.

12:05 p.m. ET, June 28, 2021

NOW: Officials provide update on search for condo collapse survivors

A briefing on the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, is taking place now.

Rescue efforts continue on the site, and on Sunday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at least nine people are dead, 152 are unaccounted for and 134 are accounted for in the collapse.

11:27 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

There is "probable cause" to believe there could be an issue at sister Champlain building, mayor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Surfside, Florida, Mayor Charles Burkett said there is "probable cause" to believe there could be a problem at the sister building, Champlain Towers North, after Champlain Towers South collapsed.

Burkett told CNN on Monday the two buildings are very similar and built at nearly the same time, by the same contractor.

"I think there is probable cause to believe we could have a problem at the sister building because it is the same design, same developer, and all of the fingerprints are there," he said. However he added that he does not think that issue exists at a third building, also named Champlain, because it was built later.

People living in Champlain Towers North have been given the option to leave. Officials have not issued a mandatory evacuation at this point.

When asked if he would spend the night in those condos, Burkett said, "I wouldn't sleep there."

"There is a serious question there, and you know, when someone ask you if the building is safe and you can't answer that question, that is a problem," he said.

Referring to the collapsed condos, Burkett said he has instructed city administrators to pull all records related to the building. He said the city is also going to the archives and scanning all of the paperwork which will be published online.

This comes after a Surfside town official assured residents of Champlain Towers South that their building was “in very good shape” in Nov. 2018, meeting minutes obtained by CNN show – even though the official had received a report warning of “major structural damage” to the tower two days earlier, according to emails released by the town.

"We've gone out to our archives, the physical boxes, pulled the boxes out and the staff is now handed the boxes off to all be scanned. So every bit of information that we have, we're going to put on our website so that you all could have a look at it too and you'll get the information at the same time I do," Burkett said.

10:37 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

Surfside official assured residents building was OK days after receiving "major structural damage" report 

From CNN's Mi Seon Lee and Casey Tolan

A Surfside town official assured residents of Champlain Towers South that their building was “in very good shape” in Nov. 2018, meeting minutes obtained by CNN show – even though the official had received a report warning of “major structural damage” to the tower two days earlier, according to emails released by the town.

Rosendo Prieto, who worked as the town’s building official at the time, made the comments at a meeting of the tower’s condo association more than two years before the building’s collapse, according to minutes from the Nov. 15, 2018 meeting. 

“Structural engineer report was reviewed by Mr. Prieto,” the minutes said, in an apparent reference to a 2018 report from structural engineer Frank Morabito, which detailed cracking and dilapidating concrete in the parking garage underneath the tower, among other significant issues. Although Prieto noted that the report “was not in the format for the 40 year certification he determined the necessary data was collected and it appears the building is in very good shape,” the minutes say.

A resident of the condo, Susana Alvarez, told NPR that she attended the meeting – which took place in the building’s recreation room – and remembered a representative of the town saying, “the building was not in bad shape.”  

Emails released by the town confirm Prieto attended the meeting. 

Two days before the meeting took place, on Nov. 13, 2018, a member of the condo board, Mara Chouela, forwarded Prieto a copy of the structural engineer’s report, according to an email released by the town on Saturday. 

And the day after the meeting, Prieto sent another email to Guillermo Olmedillo, the former town manager, saying the condo board meeting “went very well.” 

“The response was very positive from everyone in the room,” Prieto wrote in the Nov. 16 email, which was released by the town Sunday evening. “All main concerns over their forty year recertification process were addressed.”

He wrote that the building – which was built in 1981 – didn’t have to start the recertification until 2021, “but they have decided to start the process early which I wholeheartedly endorse and wish that this trend would catch on with other properties.”

It’s unclear how much work had been done to repair the building before its collapse – or whether the issues identified in the 2018 report contributed to the disaster. Morabito Consultants, the engineering firm that produced the report, said in a statement Saturday that the condo association hired it in June 2020 to prepare plans for the 40-year restoration, and that “roof repairs were underway, but concrete restoration had not yet begun” when the building fell. 

Prieto no longer works for Surfside and currently serves as the interim building official for Doral, another city in Miami-Dade County, according to the Doral website and a county document. Prieto has not responded to requests for comment from CNN. 

 

10:13 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

How you can help victims of the Surfside building collapse

From CNN's Ashley Vaughan

Rescue workers continue to dig through rubble and debris looking for signs of life after Thursday morning's building collapse in the town of Surfside, just north of Miami, Florida.

As families wait in agony for updates on missing loved ones, there are ways you can ensure they don't face this situation alone. Organizations are on the ground to help.

Here's how you can support them — even from miles away. To donate to some of the organizations featured click here.

  • The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents find safe places. The group is also offering emotional and spiritual support to the survivors. To donate click here.
  • World Central Kitchen is serving hot meals to the Surfside community to make sure displaced residents and rescue crews are fed as they face the unexpected.
  • ATJC Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center is collecting donations for individuals and families impacted by the collapse. The organization is asking for urgent items including sheets, pillows, phone chargers, and snack food.
  • Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is also responding to the crisis. To report missing loved ones, call 305-614-1819. You can also file an online missing persons report.
  • Residents who live within the partially collapsed tower are asked to fill out this wellness check form. For free bilingual emotional support, call 833-848-1762.

10:58 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

Florida congresswoman calls for "comprehensive review" into other buildings along coastline

From CNN's Elise Hammond

CNN
CNN

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose district includes Surfside, Florida, is calling for a review of other buildings along the state's coastline. This comes after a 2018 inspection report showed that a structural engineer noted breaks and cracks in the concrete of the condo building that partially collapsed.

The lawmaker told CNN on Monday that there are buildings that "date back to the '60s, '70s and '80s and we're going to need to make sure there's a comprehensive review."

Now, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be working to figure out what happened, according to Wasserman Schultz.

"They're going to take a very deep dive into this, to see whether or not... the way they decide to open a full investigation is determined by, in part, whether or not we would be making needed changes that would affect condos like this, or construction practices and building codes all over the nation. So this does have national implications and the review they're doing right now is critical," she said.

Other city leaders have already said they are reviewing their building recertifcation protocols to ensure their buildings are safe.

Sunny Isles Beach, which is located around 5 miles north of Surfside, will begin sending teams to inspect buildings today. Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin said they would modify the existing process for 40-year recertifications of buildings.

City officials in Miami sent a letter urging buildings that are over six stories and more than 40 years old to get an inspection from a qualified structural engineer. Additionally, Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer said his city is creating "more stringent standards for certifications of buildings."

9:53 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

More families of Surfside collapse victims to visit site Monday afternoon 

From CNN’s Nick Valencia and Gregory Lemos 

Maggie Castro, spokeswoman with Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, poses on Sunday, June 27, in Surfside.
Maggie Castro, spokeswoman with Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, poses on Sunday, June 27, in Surfside. Cyril Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Families of the victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse who were unable to make it to the site visit yesterday will be bused over Monday, according to officials. 

Maggie Castro, spokeswoman with Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, told CNN the families will be bused from the family reunification center at 2:00 pm ET. 

About 200 visited the site yesterday, Castro told CNN Monday. 

“There was a “combination of emotions,” Castro said. “We all process things differently, for some it was a better understanding of what we’re dealing with. For others it was closure.”

Castro was part of a briefing with family members of the missing inside the reunification center Monday morning, which was closed to the media.

9:58 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

The collapse has prompted nearby cities to review their building protocols. Here's what is being done.

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images
Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Crews continue to search for survivors under the rubble after a building collapse in Surfside, Florida. Although the cause of the collapse remains unknown, information from an inspection report from 2018 shows that a structural engineering firm "detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete," a statement from the firm said Saturday.

This is prompting city leaders in the area to review their building recertifcation protocols to ensure their buildings are safe.

Here's what nearby cities are doing:

  • Sunny Isles Beach: The city located around 5 miles north of Surfside will begin sending teams to inspect buildings Monday after announcing Saturday that they would modify the existing process for 40-year recertifications of buildings, Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin told CNN. "We are immediately putting in plans to check 59 buildings that are either at the 40-year mark or have just went through the 40-year recertification because ultimately we need to understand if there was anything that was missed, anything that we can do, how we can help, how we can mitigate for something," Svechin told CNN this morning. Svechin said there are over 20,000 condo units in Sunny Isles Beach. Svechin said condo residents in Sunny Isles Beach should “feel incredibly safe because we are on it,” but added residents “are obviously very scared.”
  • Miami: City officials sent a letter urging buildings that are over six stories and more than 40 years old to get an inspection from a qualified structural engineer, Stephanie Severino, Director of Communication for Miami told CNN. They are being asking to respond within 45 days with any potential structural concerns.
  • Boca Raton: Mayor Scott Singer told CNN in an email Sunday that his city is creating "more stringent standards for certifications of buildings" following the Surfside collapse. "Our building staff has been working with other jurisdictions to determine the best practices," Singer said in the email. "A number of our condos have been working on comprehensive restorations. We can expect more of these efforts and increased steps to ensure the safety and welfare of our residents."

Read more here.